May 9th, 2011

In the single best piece of polemic to have come out of the financial crisis, Matt Taibbi described Goldman Sachs as

a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.

Now Kevin Drum has come up with his own invertebrate metaphor for financiers:

Leverage is like a termite infestation: it swarms anywhere there’s food, but you hardly even notice it’s there until things get out of hand and your house starts to fall down.

I think we should combine these metaphors: investment banks are indeed ravenous, indestructible, indefatigable, social pests – giant vampire termites.

Termite head through a scanning electron microscope

Credit: University of Toronto via Vitrino Ramos

While destroying your flimsy house, they live themselves in air-conditioned luxury in skyscrapers built to last:


Low-budget horror moviemakers interested in the RBC copyright please contact Mark with four-figure offers.

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7 Responses to “Attack of the killer metaphors”

  1. bdbd says:

    For real zest and visual distinction, you’ll need giant ZOMBIE vampire termites.

  2. joel hanes says:

    The only reason it’s called “the vampire squid” is that so few people have heard of Cthulhu.

  3. Gus diZerega says:

    I’ve preferred “social tapeworm” – but I like yours as well.

  4. Maurice Meilleur says:

    The difference being that, when the termite infestation in your house gets to a certain scale, their home comes crashing down when yours does.

  5. Gus diZerega says:

    On the other hand… Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn. Cthulhu fhtagn.

  6. kevo says:

    I always suspected the captain on the ill-fated first “Alien” ship was entering those dark tunnels to meet up with his Goldman Sachs financier! I wonder if any of you may have thought of the same thing regarding that well-fortified-financial-planner the dear old capt. met up with in the dark! (Probably took a 7 digit bonus after meting out his advice for The Company!)

  7. Keith Humphreys says:

    Thanks for the great graphics and wit.